Edward Best: hammer-wielding stalker who flew from America to Manchester and locked woman in house is jailed

Edward Best met his victim online but turned into a real-life stalker who threatened to kill his terrified victim.

An American who flew to Manchester to stalk a woman he met online before locking her cousin in a house in Tameside for three hours while armed with a hammer, has been jailed for seven years.

Edward Best, 26, from Chicago, began sending the woman 100 threatening messages a day when the relationship broke down - saying he would kill her and rape her corpse - before in a terrifying twist, he flew to Manchester to find her.

He sat outside her home in Hyde watching it over a 12 day period, renting a car and moving between Air BnBs, before climbing over her back wall on 3 April this year.

Best was armed with a hammer but found the woman had gone away for the weekend, leaving her cousin in the house to mind her cat.

Best then subjected the cousin to a horrendous three-hour ordeal, locking the back door and blocking the front with furniture, while holding the hammer to her head and wielding a roll of black tape.

Edward Best, 26, from Chicago has been jailed for stalking a woman in Hyde, Manchester Credit: GMP

How did the woman escape?

The woman, in her 20s, texted a pal to come round and was able to mouth the word ‘help’ at her friend and her partner through the window. She escaped via a front window while Best fled out the back door.

Police were called and began a manhunt for Best, who tried to flight back to the USA from Birmingham but missed his plane.

He made it to Holyhead to catch a ferry to Ireland but was stopped by police on a plane at Dublin airport before it set off for New York.

He was brought back to Manchester where he told investigators that he admitted to making online threats to his former partner but did not have any intent to do anything about it. He also said to detectives that he did not make the woman aware he was coming to the UK and he acknowledged he had repeatedly harassed and stalked her online.

What did police say?

Best was charged Best with false imprisonment, aggravated burglary, possession of an offensive weapon and stalking.

He admitted stalking his ex-partner between January and April, false imprisonment, attempted false imprisonment, and possession of an offensive weapon at Minshull Crown Court before today being sentenced to seven years for those offences.

Edward Best, 26, from Chicago has been jailed for stalking a woman in Hyde, Manchester Credit: GMP

Detective Constable Emily Blair, of Ashton CID, said: “The perverse actions of Edward Best were extremely sinister and frightening for both young women, and while this may be an unusual case it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to tackling violence against women and girls in all its forms.

“It was clear from Best’s online conversations with his former partner that he was obsessive and aggressive, meaning that when he went to her home address armed with a hammer it was reasonable to believe his intentions were malicious with the aim of inflicting physical as well as emotional harm.

“Fortunately for his ex-partner, she was not in that weekend; however, this by no means diminishes how much she has been affected by what could’ve happened, and how horrifying the ordeal was that her cousin was subjected to.

“Once Best was found by his victim’s friends, his intent was to run away from his crimes and go back to America to avoid the consequences, but our swift response from our specialist team of officers meant we were able to hunt him down and bring him back to Greater Manchester so he can now rightly face justice.”